One of the keys to communicating effectively is to be able to tailor your communication to your audience. This can be achieved in various ways and, if done correctly, will allow you to engage your audience quickly and with optimal results.
Know your audience
In business, you’ll communicate with a variety of different people in many different ways. These may include: marketing, networking, staff meetings, client and supplier meetings, disciplinary procedures, as well as communicating with regulators or government agencies.
In each situation, your communication will have certain goals and your aim will be to achieve these goals as effectively as possible. If you're speaking to a room full of colleagues, you can use jargon and company ideals to present your idea. However, if you are presenting to a room full of potential customers, this might not convert into sales.
As such, having a thorough understanding of your audience is crucial so that you can adapt your message and tone of voice to best suit their needs.
It's vital to think about the objectives of each communication, as this will help you design your message. You can then take what you already know about the audience to anticipate their reactions and tailor your message, tone and medium.
For example, are you communicating with customers in order to inform them of a change to your brand, or are you writing to them to promote new products and encourage sales? Each objective will result in very different messaging, including content, tone of voice and the communications channel you employ.
Similarly, if you're sending out communication to stakeholders or customers on behalf of your business for crisis management or crisis control, the way you choose to communicate and the tone you write in will be very different to if you're sending out a Christmas or holiday greeting. As such, keeping your objectives in mind will not only help define the tone, but also the best channel of communication for your audience.
Communicating through different channels
Thinking about the channel you are using is also crucial for effective communication as a business. For example, the script given to sales staff or relationship managers when undertaking customer due diligence checks over the phone would be entirely different to the tone of voice used when writing a Tweet about your latest product launch.
As such, it's important to think about audience segmentation and which channels of communication each of your target audience groups will most likely be using. For a restaurant, sending a text to remind a customer of their upcoming reservation would work. Whereas for B2B companies, sticking to email and telephone communication to liaise with clients is more commonplace.
Whenever you communicate with an audience, you should be measuring and assessing their reaction, whether that’s in terms of sales, enquiries, leads or even direct feedback. Each time you do this, you’ll learn more about what works and what doesn’t. You’ll then be able to refine your next communication with that audience to better meet your objectives.
Adapting your communication style is also important depending on if the communication is face-to-face or digital. For example, in-person communication with customers or team members will allow you to pay attention to body language and adapt your tone or message accordingly. Meanwhile, over email or digital communication, it's important to take extra time to consider if your communication fits the right tone for your audience, as this more linear form of communication won't offer as much feedback as in-person communication.
Failing to modify your communication style to the audience can result in confusion, misunderstanding and even offence. It's therefore essential that business owners take the time to fully assess which communication style and channel is best suited to each situation.
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